--Joseph M. Donato, B.A. in History, '14, May 19, 2014
Good morning Your Eminence, Dr. Esteban, Dr. Robinson, Mrs. Eberstadt, distinguished faculty and administrators, honored guests, friends, family, fellow pirates and graduates of the class of 2014.
I am deeply honored and humbled to stand here today to celebrate this milestone of achievement with our entire university community. After four years of sacrifice, determination, and hard work, this journey that we have traveled together now comes to a close. Having reached the summit, we may forget what challenges and snares we met along the way, that we moved forward despite obstacles, through triumph and disaster, over the peaks and into the valley. We have arrived; we have finished the race. The countless exams, sleepless nights, stacks of notecards, outlines, rubrics and rough drafts are behind us. Internships, clinicals, work studies and double shifts, four years of toil and tears, friendship, brother and sisterhood, dreaming, praying, commitment have brought us to this moment. An unforgettable chapter now comes to a close and with it, a new one is opened. An unknown future stands before us; the next pages are yet unwritten. What is known, however, is that we have the knowledge, wisdom and strength to shape that future and boldly meet the challenges of tomorrow. We move ahead with the light of knowledge, with four years of lessons learned and life behind us. We, and thousands of our fellow graduates across the nation, are entering a world which demands servant leaders of character, integrity and honor. Much is expected of us; much has been given to us. The challenges of tomorrow demand the very best of today. I ask you my friends, if not us, then who? If not now, then when?
Let us go forward together, with the confidence of having met each challenge, knowing that we each have something unique to offer our communities, our country and the world. We all have a part to play; we all have a rendezvous with destiny. Let the light of truth be our guide and illuminate our path. As we embark upon a new journey, let us remember the words engraved on the seal of our alma mater: Hazard Zet Forward, my friends. The road ahead will present obstacles and setbacks but we know how much there is to be won and how much there is to be lost. We know that despite everything, we will continue to move forward, that we will never stop and we will never quit in the pursuit of our goals. We will persevere in the name of the very best of our tradition, to win a better world for ourselves and for our children. It is the resolve to move forward that brought us here, and it is that same resolve that will bring us to the future triumphs that lay ahead in our bright futures, moving from strength to strength. I will close with a quote from President Calvin Coolidge. It’s about perseverance, the most important ingredient in the life of a leader.
"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."
And with that persistence and with that determination, let us move forward. Friends, thank you for your time, your friendship and your endless support. I have had no greater honor in my life than to serve you as your student government president over these past years. I am honored to be part of this class and to be part of this university, and I have every confidence that we are going to be very successful and we are going to do great things. Now go forward. Dream those things, and achieve those things.